Highlight: Susan B. Anthony Letter

You never know the treasures that await you in Special Collections & University Archives at Rod Library! During this moment where the library is physically closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, SC&UA staff want to highlight some interesting materials and remind you of the resources and services we can still provide remotely. 

While we recently worked with an elementary education class, we encountered a hidden gem buried deep within the Homer H. Seerley Papers. Students in this class were assigned to develop lessons about the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage using primary sources. SC&UA staff began searching student newspapers and other publications in IndexUNI for terms like women and voting, and browsed various faculty and alumni papers within University Archives, such as alumni scrapbooks, from the 1910s. After we spent several days of searching without many results, we turned to correspondence files from Homer Seerley who led the university from 1886 to 1928. The archives holds over 100 boxes of his correspondence, and using the card catalog accompanying the Seerley Papers, we found multiple letters from leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Among these were several letters from Susan B. Anthony, who wrote to Seerley about purchasing the first four volumes of History of Woman Suffrage. While most of the letters discuss business matters and some speaking engagements, Anthony’s letter to Seerley shown here from 1902 includes a statement suggesting her firm stance on the necessity of a woman’s right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony letter


Primary source research often does not happen in a straight line. This discovery is a great example to show that working with archival materials can take a lot of creativity, time, and energy in the search process, but the results can be very rewarding. We were so excited to bring this to students who could hold this letter from an international women’s history figure with their own hands, and then go on to use it in the elementary classroom. 

Please remember that SC&UA is still here to help you with your research. In the 4,500+ linear feet of archives and manuscripts that we manage, there is sure to be something that piques your interest and puts a smile on your face during this unprecedented time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Details about the ways we can support you during this time can be found at https://scua.library.uni.edu/covid-19-update.


Contributed by University Archivist & Special Collections Coordinator, Jaycie Vos, March 2020.